Govt plans to float tenders online
The government is planning to float tenders online to make the public procurement system transparent, accountable and functional and keep it free from undue influence, officials said.
As part of the Public Procurement Reform Project-II, it has taken up a plan to introduce, in phases, e-government procurement (e-GP) to modernise the outdated procurement process and rid it of unjustified influence or physical obstruction.
The finance minister, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, has already iterated the government’s plan to go for government purchases online in accordance with its vision of a ‘digital Bangladesh’ by 2121.
According to a study of the World Bank carried out in 2002, the total value of the country’s public procurement amounts to more than $3.0 billion a year.
Both the volume and the value of such expenditures are expected to increase manifold in the coming years as the country is undertaking more development projects, said sources.
More than 80 per cent of the annual development expenditures are spent on government purchase of goods, works and services, according to official statistics.
With the financial assistance of the World Bank, the central procurement technical unit of the Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Division under the planning ministry has already started the primary work to launch the online tender process.
The unit’s director general Amulya Kumar Debnath told New Age on Thursday four government departments were the targeted agencies under the project. The e-GP will be introduced in 12 to 16 procuring entities under the four agencies on a pilot basis at first.
The four government departments are the Local Government Engineering Department, Roads and Highways Department, Bangladesh Water Development Board and Rural Electrification Board.
‘The single end-to-end e-GP solution is one of the four components of the project, and after the launch of the e-GP, all procurement-related information will be delivered via a comprehensive integrated platform and e-GP portal,’ he said. ‘All stakeholders can have equal access to information, opportunities and participation in the procurement processes in e-GP.’
The other components of the reforms programme include furthering policy reforms and institutionalising capacity development; strengthening procurement management at the sectorial level, and communication, behavioural change and social accountability.
As a part of capacity building and institutionalising the procurement system in compliance with the Public Procurement Act 2006 and the Public Procurement Rules 2008, four training courses, each spanning three weeks, have already been completed. About 108 such courses will be held for over 10 thousand officials, said Debnath.
A comprehensive social awareness campaign and communication programme on public procurement reforms, law and rules, and social accountability is also under way.
Debnath said the PPA and the PPR have paved the way for making the public procurement system accountable and transparent.
He said there should not be any misconception about the laws and rules concerned. They will not cause any delay or inconvenience in the process of procurement, rather they are safeguards for ensuring fair competition and purchase of quality goods and services with government funds.
‘All government procuring entities, the bidding community, suppliers, consultants and others concerned are expected to comply with the PPA and PPR,’ he noted.
‘As government purchases are made with public money, its proper and full utilisation as per the laws and rules will help us to accelerate the pace of the ADP by implementing the development projects in time,’ said Debnath, adding the CPTU is going to launch an integrated and comprehensive campaign to generate support of all those concerned in favour of the laws, rules and reforms in public procurement.
The abbreviation ‘PPR’ no longer stands for Public Procurement Regulations, which was replaced by the Public Procurement Rules 2008. The Public Procurement Regulations 2003 was declared void as soon as the Public Procurement Act 2006 was made a law. Under the law, rules have been framed and put into force since January 31, 2008.
Besides, the e-GP will also provide comprehensive management information and reporting system as prescribed in the PPR 2008.
Debnath said under the IT Act, the use of e-signature has been accepted.
Many countries’ experience of the e-GP shows these factors, when combined, can yield savings up to 15 per cent or even more, said an expert working at the CPTU.
More than 50 governments around the world are already using the e-GP in one way or another.